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Tabb Coach Matt Lawson will be the first to admit Friday's road game against Warhill was not always the prettiest game to watch.
However, after losing three consecutive games, Lawson was of the mindset that winning an ugly game was better than losing a pretty game.
His Tigers managed to earn a gritty win Friday, defeating an upstart Warhill team 21-14 at Wanner Stadium.
Tabb and Warhill combined for a punt, two fumbles and a turnover on downs over the first four possessions of the game, painting a picture of the type of game to come.
After Tabb's second punt of the first quarter, Warhill strung together its first long drive of the game.
The drive started with 2:30 left in the first quarter and ended with 11:32 left in the second quarter as quarterback Ryan Creecy spotted Collin Bright running free and delivered a perfect 39-yard pass for the game's opening score.
Tabb's first play from scrimmage proved the perfect response. T.J. Jones took a handoff, danced past Warhill defenders and sprung free for a 64-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7-7.
The 7-7 score carried into halftime with both offenses still trying to figure out ways to move the ball effectively.
"Both defenses did a great job tonight," Lawson said. "Both of us had pretty good defenses, but both of our offenses were also struggling."
Neither Tabb nor Warhill could find a rhythm in the pass game, as both teams combined for a less-than-stellar 2-19 in the game. The lack of aerial attacks led to heavy doses of runs, which burnt through clock quickly in the second half.
The Lions suffered a big blow to their running game when standout running back Bright suffered an ankle injury less than one minute into the second half. The injury sidelined Bright for the remainder of the game.
A fumble from Warhill's backup running back with 9:20 left in the third quarter set up a big run play from Tabb.
On the first play from scrimmage following the fumble, Tabb's Nick Hunter skirted past the defense for a 39-yard touchdown that put Tabb up 14-7.
With 6:26 left in the third quarter, two negative run plays and a sack forced Tabb to punt near its own end zone. Punter Stanley Henderson mishandled the snap and was chased through his end zone by a handful of Warhill defenders.
Just outside his end zone, Henderson unsuccessfully tried to get the punt off and instead went out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
With prime field position, Warhill seemed destined to tie the game up. However, with the ball at the Tabb 1-yard line, a mishandled exchange from the center to the quarterback was fumbled and recovered by Tabb.
"Them fumbling the ball there probably helped seal the game for us," Lawson said.
Warhill held Tabb to a three-and-out and got the ball back on its own 45-yard line after a booming punt from Henderson.
The Lions were able to convert on their ensuing possession as a long drive was capped with a 12-yard touchdown run by Tre'Von Loftin with 11:17 left in the game.
Similar to Warhill's first touchdown of the game, Tabb responded on its next drive.
Aided by 30 yards of penalties by Warhill, Tabb navigated down to the Warhill 2-yard line where backup quarterback Wil Marks, who replaced starting quarterback Alec Kurek after a disappointing 1-11 passing performance, ran the ball in for the go-ahead score with just over nine minutes left to play.
The Tabb defense hung strung for the remainder of the fourth quarter, forcing the Warhill offense to turn the ball over on downs during its final two drives of the game and clinching the win.
Tabb (4-5) will conclude its regular season at home against Poquoson on Friday, while Warhill (3-5) will face a quick turnaround as the Lions play a makeup game against Jamestown on Tuesday.
Tabb: 0 7 7 7 — 21
Warhill: 0 7 0 7 — 14
W: Bright 39 pass from Creecy (Whalen kick), 7-0
T: Jones 64 run (Henderson kick), 7-7
T: Hunter 38 run (Henderson kick), 14-7
W: Loftin 12 run (Whalen kick), 14-14
T: Marks 2 run (Henderson kick), 21-14
First Downs: 7; 11
Rushes-yards: 35-202; 52-182
Comp-att-int: 1-12-0; 2-7-1
Passing yards: 25; 46
Fumbles-lost: 1-1; 3-3
Penalties-yards: 9-80; 10-85
Tabb: Nick Hunter (8 car, 88 yards, TD, 1 rec, 25 yards), TJ Jones (8 car, 59 yards, TD), Jake Roberts (11.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL)
Warhill: Tre'Von Loftin (11 car, 74 yards, TD), Collin Bright (11 car, 71 yards, 1 rec, 39 yards, TD)
Lafayette Claims Bay Rivers District Crown
Lafayette once again proved why its football program has won 32 consecutive Bay Rivers District games, as the Rams cruised to a 40-0 rout on the road against Bruton on Friday night.
The win guaranteed Lafayette the top spot in the Bay Rivers District for the 2015 season.
Lafayette's offense in the first half was largely predicated on running the ball down the heart of an undersized Bruton defense. The plan worked to perfection as Lafayette scored four rushing touchdowns in the first half.
In the first quarter, John Douglass started the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run. Later that quarter, Caleb Kraegenbrink sprung free for a 14-yard touchdown.
The second quarter was more of the same as Kraegenbrink found the end zone for a second time, this time on a 20-yard scamper.
Lafayette's rushing trend was broken up briefly as quarterback Cheyton Pine connected with receiver Hezekiah Grimsley for a 45-yard touchdown. The pass was followed up just before halftime with a 13-yard rushing touchdown from Kyle Johnson.
At halftime, Lafayette held a commanding 33-0 lead over the Panthers.
The game's final score came in the third quarter as Joeseph Kraegenbrink picked off a Bruton pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
Lafayette (9-0) will look to complete another perfect Bay Rivers District regular season — its third in as many years — when the Rams host New Kent on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Bruton (1-8) will look to end its season on a positive note after having lost eight consecutive games after winning its season opener Sept. 4. The Panthers will hit the road to play Warhill on Nov. 7.
Individual statistics were not reported for this game.
Lafayette: 14 19 7 0 — 40
Bruton: 0 0 0 0 — 0
L: Douglass 1 run (Horne kick), 7-0
L: C. Kraegenbrink 14 run (Horne kick), 14-0
L: C. Kraegenbrink 20 run (Horne kick), 21-0
L: Grimsley 45 pass from Pine (kick missed), 27-0
L: Johnson 13 run (run failed), 33-0
L: J. Kraegenbrink 90 interception return (Horne kick)
Smithfield Defense Shuts Down York Late
Friday's game between Smithfield and York was a meeting of two teams heading in different directions as the season winds down.
Smithfield entered Friday's game having won three consecutive games, while York has gone 2-2 over its last four games averaging just over 10 points per game.
York's rough stretch of play continued as the Falcons fell to Smithfield 14-12 at home.
Boasting a stingy defense, York was able to keep Smithfield at bay for most of the night. A first-quarter touchdown by the Packers gave Smithfield a 7-0 advantage heading into halftime with the game still within reach for York.
York quarterback Ramsey Hayyat got the Falcons on the board when he dove into the end zone from one yard out with 24 seconds left in the third quarter. A blocked extra point helped Smithfield maintain a 7-6 lead.
A quick Smithfield touchdown early in the fourth quarter put the Falcons behind 14-6 and desperately needing a touchdown.
Hayyat answered the call again as he rammed in another 1-yard touchdown after a long York drive. Trailing 14-12 with 18 seconds left, York opted to try a two-point conversion.
After successfully running the ball with Hayyat in the red zone, York was finally shut down by Smithfield as the Packers blew up a quarterback keeper at the 1-yard line to prevent the conversion.
Smithfield recovered York's ensuing onside kick attempt and kneed out the clock to secure the victory.
York (5-4) will finish its regular season Nov. 7 at home against Jamestown.
Individual statistics were not reported for this game.
Smithfield: 7 0 0 7 — 14
York: 0 0 6 6 — 12
S: Pierce 20 pass from Turner (Tucker kick), 7-0
Y: Hayyat 1 run (kick blocked), 7-6
S: Robinson 35 run (Tucker kick), 14-6
Y: Hayyat 1 run (run failed), 14-12
HRA Forfeits Against Isle of Wight
Hampton Roads Academy struggled to keep pace with Isle of Wight Academy on the road Friday, leading to a forfeit with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter.
The decision to forfeit was a result of an injury sustained by a Hampton Roads Academy player that left the Navigators with a depleted roster.
Before the forfeit, Isle of Wight Academy dominated the Navigators from the opening kickoff.
Isle of Wight's Curtis Waters accounted for both first-quarter touchdowns, including a 68-yard punt return and 3-yard touchdown run.
Donald King scored a 49-yard touchdown run for Isle of Wight, while the other two touchdowns were scored by Hunter Edwards in the second quarter. The first was a 1-yard touchdown run and the last a 21-yarder.
Hampton Roads Academy (2-7) has lost seven consecutive games and will conclude its regular season on the road against Nansemond-Suffolk Academy on Friday.
Individual statistics were not provided for this game.
HRA: 0 0 0 0 — 0
Isle of Wight: 13 22 0 0 — 35
I: Waters 68 punt return (kick missed), 6-0
I: Waters 3 run (Powell kick), 13-0
I: Edwards 1 run (Ricks pass from Casey), 21-0
I: King 49 run (Powell kick), 28-0
I: Edwards 21 run (Powell kick), 35-0